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LeBron Admits Concern Over Current State of NBA Collective Bargaining

Feb 20, 2011 – 12:25 AM
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Chris Tomasson

Chris Tomasson %BloggerTitle%

LeBron JamesLOS ANGELES -- LeBron James, the two-time defending MVP and the NBA's most recognizable player, is taking a more active role than he previously has during collective bargaining agreement negotiations.

And he's somewhat worried.

"It does. It does,'' the Miami Heat star said Saturday when asked if it concerns him that NBA owners haven't changed their proposal at all in one year since the one that was immediately rejected during last February's All-Star Weekend in Dallas.

Still, James is trying to stay as optimistic as he can even though NBA commissioner David Stern said there's a "huge gap'' between the players and owners. With the CBA expiring June 30 and many believing there then will be a lockout, James was among a number of NBA stars to take part in a Friday negotiating session in Beverly Hills, Calif., and was said to have been a very active participant.

"That doesn't mean a month or two months from now that we can't get something resolved,'' James said of the hard line that has been presented by the owners, which includes a significant reduction of salaries. "We definitely don't want to have something that's stale. But, at the same time, this is a huge summer. This is a huge moment for the NBA for our players and for our owners. So you just don't want to jump the gun on something this huge.''

Nobody expects either side to do that. In fact, James admitted his feeling was 50-50 when asked if there even will be an NBA season in 2011-12.

"With my gut feeling, I have, I'm kind of split in half,'' said James, speaking after practice in preparation for Sunday's All-Star Game at the Staples Center in which he will start at forward for the East. "One half says yes, one half says no. I couldn't imagine us going into the fall without work. But it happened in (1998-99), and I knew basketball enough to it was like, 'What's going on? Why are there no NBA games on?'''

James was 13 when the NBA lockout began in the summer of 1998. He had turned 14 when a 50-game season started in February 1999.

Denver star Carmelo Anthony also went to Friday's session.

"We got to July 1. Hopefully, we can get a deal done. No one wants to see a lockout, players or owners, because this game is so important to everyone."
- LeBron James
"I'm hoping that we don't go into a lockout,'' Anthony said. "Everybody's hoping that we don't go on lockout. The owners don't want to go on lockout. We don't want to go on lockout. But we want to come to a mutual agreement that can help both sides.''

About the only thing the two sides agree upon now is neither wants a lockout. But it might be inevitable.

"We got to July 1,'' James said. "Hopefully, we can get a deal done. No one wants to see a lockout, players or owners, because this game is so important to everyone.''

James is seeking to become just the fourth NBA player to win three straight MVPs, joining Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell and Larry Bird. He's also potentially 1.5 years away from a second Olympic gold medal.

Then again, James didn't seem as gung-ho Saturday about his prospects of playing in the 2012 Olympics as he had been last fall. Still, he didn't back off his commitment to play.

"I'm hoping, if I get chosen,'' James said about playing. "If I get chosen for the team ... If (Oklahoma City star) Kevin Durant is on the team and I'm not, it's all good. I ain't tripping. I got me a gold medal. It's all shiny and in my house ... I don't have a spot (guaranteed). I was just one of the 12 guys ... that got chosen (for the 2008 gold-medal winning outfit).''

It safe to say James has a spot locked up for 2012, if he wants it. What isn't a guarantee, though, is if James will be playing in any NBA games between this summer and the London Olympics.

Chris Tomasson
Chris Tomasson | Twitter: @ChrisTomasson | E-mail Chris

Chris Tomasson covered the Denver Nuggets from 2002-09 for the defunct Rocky Mountain News. Prior to that, he was on the Cleveland Cavaliers beat for the Akron Beacon Journal and also has covered five Olympics, major college sports, the NFL and MLB. He has won numerous awards, including 10 in the past nine Pro Basketball Writers Association contests.
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